No one at the start of the season circled this week’s game between the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Ole Miss Rebels as an important game. These teams are almost mirror images of on another. Both teams are 5-4 and one win away from becoming bowl eligible. The Rebels have scored 269 points; Vandy has scored 229. Ole Miss has 3,674 total yards; Vandy has 3,466 total yards. All losses for both teams have been to ranked teams. This may the best opportunity for the Rebels to become bowl eligible, their next two opponents are LSU and Mississippi State to close the season, while Vandy only has Tennessee and Wake Forrest left to play. The Rebels leads the series 47-19-2, but Vandy has won the last two meetings.
Things to look for in the Ole Miss versus Vandy game:
Take care of the football better. Ole Miss is the only SEC team without a turnover in the red zone this year and has gone a perfect 17-for-17 in the red zone against league opponents. However against the Bulldogs last week the Rebels had a golden opportunity to take major control of the game. The Rebels lost control of the game by fumbling the ball in critical situations. Last week in the Georgia game both teams combined for 4 turnovers in 60 seconds.
Don’t take the opponent for granted. Vandy is not a ranked team but they do have some explosive weapons. Zac Stacy has 752 rushing yards. Vandy have double trouble with their wide receivers Jordon Matthews (850 yards) and Chris Boyd has (622 yards). Jordan Rodgers has 1,678 passing yards, 7 touchdown passes, and only 3 interceptions on the year.
Defense has to step up. The Rebels defense will have to avoid giving up the big plays. Last week the Bulldogs lived off of the big plays. Another key is the defense will have to stop the Commodores on third down and give the ball back to their offense. Vandy has shown when given a chance they will make the best out of every opportunity.
Become more explosive on offense. Last week the Rebels scored only 10 points their lowest point production of the season. Junior running back Jeff Scott ranks 7th in the SEC with 79.1 rushing yards per game and has three 100-yard performances. Sophomore wide receiver Donte Moncrief ranks 10th in the SEC with 60.0 receiving yards per game and is tied for 4th with five TD catches. Bo Wallace has to do a better job of increasing the point production. Vandy scored 40 points against Kentucky last week and this game could become a shootout.
Terry Davis covers Ole Miss football for MemphiSport. Follow him @Terryd515.
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